March 19, 2010

Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger

This week, I'm tasting something that isn't technically fake meat, since it claims no meat-like characteristics, but is intended to serve the same purpose as meat, so I'm counting it. I'm talking about Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers. I was intrigued by the company's tagline, "Where you recognize all the ingredients" - I did, in fact, recognize all the ingredients. Also, this product is "certified vegan" and they make a big deal out of being made from oat bran. I don't know that I consider that a big deal, but whatever. I'm not here to critique their marketing - just their food.

I've been eating a lot of veggie burgers lately, so I kind of have the routine down. Once again, the box made no mention of stovetop instructions, but I wasn't about to use my oven for something like this. I pretended my non-stick pan was a grill, and carried on. Teensy bit of oil, heat, flip, heat, and voila! Veggie burger! Toasted bun, some ketchup, some lettuce, and I've got a meal! The only catch here was that after the first flip, as the patty was mostly defrosted, it got really fragile. A piece of it broke off, as I was attempting to move it around in the pan.

Okay, now to the most important part. I took a big bite, expecting a standard veggie burger experience, but was quite disappointed. There was an unidentifiable off-flavor. I examined the list of ingredients again, trying to place it, but came up empty. I mean, I'm not the biggest pea fan, and these weren't a great example of peas, but it didn't taste like peas. I even dissected the burger a little bit, since many of the ingredients were actually visually identifiable, but to no avail. Just a weird off-flavor, which was pretty tenacious. Maybe it was the oat bran they were so proud of. Hard to say. What I do know is that I'm not terribly eager to put more of these into my mouth. Sorry, Dr. Praeger - I do recognize all the ingredients, but something here just isn't doing it for me.

The experience:
Texture - Very fragile - fell apart easily
Flavor - Some unidentifiable off-flavor that ruined the experience for me

If anyone else has tried these and knows what that flavor might be, please let me know!

Final grade for this attempt: D-

37 comments:

  1. I had a four-veggie-burger week this week. Which is atypical in recent times, but they're a damn easy meal to prepare for the vegetarian on the go.

    Have you tried the sausage-style Grillers recipe crumbles? Like the regular-style, but with spices, I think.

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  2. I actually have yet to see the sausage-style crumbles anywhere. Do they have them at Seward?

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  3. People raved about this veg burger, and I tried so hard to find it. So I was BEYOND disappointed when I had the exact same experience as you! Yuck. Not a fan. I much prefer Amy's or Garden Burger.

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  4. I don't remember the last place I saw them. At least one store I have frequented around here had only sausage-style and never plain. It's a crapshoot.

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  5. dr prags veg burger is a great snack but why are veggies 170 calories
    and boy do they give me the wind!!! anyone else

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  6. Tracy!

    The unidentifiable off-flavor that ruined the experience for me the answer below:

    The unidentifiable flavor is Arrowroot which is a little bitter it is used for texture/binding should not be used in the Veggie Burger they should use something else for binding the burger. I don't care for the taste in the burger at all.

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  7. Ah ha! Thanks, Juantia, for solving that mystery. :)

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  8. I love them! BTW these are not made for pan frying and that is why there are no instructions for that. They are delicious broiled, just like it states on the package.

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  9. I can't say I agree with the previous commenter. I feel like I've had a truly dizzying number of veggie burgers at this point, and regardless of cooking method -- keeping in mind that pan frying almost always improves the flavor and texture -- this was one of the worst-tasting veggie burgers I have ever had.

    There are so many better choices out there!

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  10. I didn't think it was that bad, none of them taste like a burger or meat of any kind anyway, its just another flavor. The flavor is different but I kinda like it, and I don't think those are peas; they're soybeans.

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  11. Well, there are both peas and soybeans in it, so what I was seeing could have been either. Soybeans are usually bigger than peas, though.

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  12. Very soggy burgers. 170 calories? Mine were only 110. The Tex one and california one. They are very fragile. They are not as fragile as making your own though. I love the taste of these because it does taste different. Something to eat in moderation. Thanks. I don't think these were bad at all. I have eaten almost 6 boxes of them in total. I put sauces on them before broiling.

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  13. Thanks for the sauce idea, Anonymous. I'll agree that the taste is unlike anything else I have eaten. Maybe I'll get used to it. Maybe sauce will help.

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  14. I've tried a few different veggie burgers and hated them all, probably because I don't like vegetables lol but when I tried these I liked them a lot, and even bought a box for my diet.

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  15. I really love the spinach ones plus there is 6 in the box. They are big sized compared to most veggie burgers. I eat 2 for lunch no sauce needed ;)

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  16. I eat the burgers pretty regularly, both Cali and Tex style. You have to "fry" them (I say fry, but I use very very little oil, just so they wouldn't stick) a bit longer, until they get crusty surface. Then you can easily flip them over without breaking, and same for the other side.

    Of course, they won't taste like a meat, you cannot expect that from vegetables. And yea, it is vegetables (i.e. fiber), so if you don't chew them well, you will get gas.

    I think they are great tasting if you accept it is no meat, but rather burger-shape-looking healthy vegetable choice.

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  17. Paul and I just had one. Not even Daiya cheese could save it.

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  18. I love these, and I think they are the best veggie burgers on the market. Other brands are so bland and fake tasting. These are delicious and taste natural!

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  19. Eating one of Dr. Praeger's spinach burgers--fried in non-stick pay with no added oil--eating with brown rice and peas--and a tomato--delicious!

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  20. That should have been non-stick "pan"!

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  21. Dr. Praeger's makes the best veggie burgers! They are delicate, but worth the extra care when cooking.

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  22. I LOVE these - broil in a toaster oven - perfect! Little crispy on the outside and an identifyable blend of veggies inside. I like all Dr. Praeger's products that I've tried. I get them at Trader Joes and Whole Foods in Omaha.

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  23. I tasted them at Costco and promptly purchased a box of 16. Tried them on a fry pan no oil & Yummy! I am cooking one for dinner tonight with TJ's salsa. fyi, sodium was lower than most other veggie burgers.

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  24. These were the worst veggie burgers I have ever tasted. Totally inedible. The texture was just awful! No flavor either...so disappointing.

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  25. I've tried many vegan burgers. They are more fragile then most. I use my black and decker toaster oven to cook them using the toaster function. I lightly salt and pepper them and place them on a sheet of reynolds none stick foil in the toaster pan. I brown one side and then using pancake flipper toast the other side and top with a good vegan yellow american cheese place on a toasted bun with your favorite burger condiments and you won't be disappointed. I also love his potatoe cakes. Other good vegan burgers Amy's barbeque burgers and I found some new ones in the produce department in the organic section that are not frozen. Fond of the portablella one. Also use things like a little steak sauce.

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  26. This burger was gross. Even the dog would not touch it. I use to get the garden burgers at Costco but they only carry DR. P now. Costco is famous for their samples but they will never offer these. I am stuck eating them and the only way I can stand them it to cook it in bacon fat and stick lots of cheese on top.

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  27. I actually enjoyed these burgers very much. I have grilled them and have broiled them AS DIRECTED. They have always turned out great, even my children and meat and potato husband liked them. The first introduction was actually a sample at Costco and that is why I bought them. Glad I did, love the vegetables in them and the quick preparation.

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  28. I don't typically like or eat veggie burgers. Tried to get a healthy dinner from Cosco. Put in the frypan with a tiny bit of extra v olive oil and voila. We all loved it. Again, we do not really enjoy the regular veggie burgers. We ate it plain, not on a bun and not with a condiment. My son put some avacado on his, that was it.

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  29. I love these and so does my toddler son. It's great to have an option for veggie burger that isn't wheat gluten or full of chemicals. I fry it in a tiny bit of coconut oil and squish it a little in the frying pan. I am surprised more people don't like them.

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  30. I just discovered these at Costco last week and I am super happy with this purchase. LOVE them. I especially like that they aren't loaded with soy or even trying to be meat like. I do not eat them with a bun and burger type fixings. I like them on their own with a condiment or two. I think tzatziki might be the winner.
    I have had best results placing them on a cookie sheet in the broiler and browning them real good. The more they are cooked the less likely they are to break apart.

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  31. I too bought at Costco. I'm not vegan or vegetarian just trying to cut back on meat. With a kaiser roll cheese ketchup and mustard these taste great. Plus, 16 burgers for 10 bucks - who said you can't eat healthier on a budget!

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  32. I didn't like these either, they were very disappointing. I loved the Baja California veggie burgers from a company called Golden, but then the stores near me stopped selling them!

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  33. I just had my first one and I absolutely adored it- my one thing is I didn't go into eating it thinking it would mimic meat. I could tell with all the veggies poking out that it wouldn't come close. I used the broiler and cooked it for half the recommended time (it was 160 F internal temp with only 8 minutes one side), wrapped it up in a wrap and dug in. Wow! It does taste fried and like it should be a guilty pleasure, so for only 110 calories I'm definitely a fan of these!

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  34. I like them. Allot actually. I enjoy the very vegetable taste without the soy based meat alternative texture. It's interesting that that sites with more vegan background commenters also really like them. I think it's just a matter of preference. If someone's looking for lots more veggie in the veggie burger than these are a tasty treat with solid nutrition specs.

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  35. I like these burgers but it makes a difference how they are prepared. At first I too was choking them down, but finally learned how to prepare them. Get a piece of aluminum foil, spray some PAM on it in a circle the size of the patty, then place the frozen patty on the circle, then also spray the top of the frozen patty with PAM. Then preheat gas grill to about 400 deg F (temp not that important, just adjust time on grill so it browns but doesn't burn), and place the foil with burger on top of the grill grate. After about 7 minutes, flip the burger and then cook another 5 minutes. This will turn the outside crispier than the inside and it has a nice texture. Also, I eat them without a bun or fixings, but I do find that putting a layer of Ragu or Rao's spaghetti sauce on them adds a nice flavor. I eat two of these a day and keep a jar of spaghetti sauce in fridge just for this purpose.

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  36. Surprising that there are people who don't like it. For me, Dr. Praeger's is among the best. Some people dislike certain tastes for whatever reason - remember Pres. Bush the First and broccoli?

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  37. Great veggie burger! It tastes like what it's supposed to be - a veggie burger. I'm hooked.

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